We had our last parent education class. I’d reached all the expected milestones in my pregnancy without issue. The hospital bag was packed, room was ready, equipment assembled. Now, it was only a matter of days leading up to the expected due date. The only thing left to do was wait.
At the doctors office, waiting for my now-weekly appointment, I began to feel the panic. The reality of the baby’s impending arrival was now thrust into sharp focus. With each kick and practice contraction, the pang of fear set in.
A mother with her 8 month old asked me when I was due. She seemed surprised to learn that I’m as far along as I am, due to deliver in just a few days. It’s true, that I have barely gained more than about 25-30 lbs, and I know how lucky I am. Still, I feel huge and uncomfortable. But women who’ve gained significantly more during their pregnancies aren’t very sympathetic, so I take the compliment and ask her about her baby.
He seems easy and content, interacting with me from his stroller. In spite of his teething, he’s in a tremendously good mood. I’m jealous, not knowing my own baby’s temperament yet, but fearing the worst after the previous night’s class on colic. I don’t ask her about the fear, since she seems to be without any. I’m jealous of that too, knowing that my anxious mind will be running long after the happy family before me heads home.
My appointment is the usual array of uncomfortable prodding and poking. The doctor tells me that I’m not anywhere close yet, and to consider taking a strong laxative to get things going. If I haven’t delivered by next week, we’ll talk about inducing labor, which has me even more concerned. Shouldn’t my body be able to figure this out? Why hasn’t it begun on its own?
I’m told that first children are often late, but that doesn’t make me feel much better. On my way out, the doctor jokes about a concoction of root beer and castor oil, which sounds awful. I’m not sure what to think.
When I arrive home, my mood is soured and withdrawn. After the course on colic and news of being no closer to giving birth, I’m feeling defeated. I try to buck up and enjoy the evening, one of the last few we’ll have as just the two of us, but it’s hard.
I’m torn, not feeling quite ready for the impending delivery, but over the whole experience of being pregnant. I’m scared of labor, the pain, the complications and the uncertainty of whether I’ll be a good mother. I’m worried that my dysfunctional upbringing has left me too damaged to properly attach with my baby, and that I’ll unknowingly neglect him or deprive him in some important way.
Mostly, I just feel uneasy, teetering on the precipice of something huge and inevitable. My life is about to change in an unalterable way, and for all the preparation I’m doing, I still feel unready. There is a strong pull to go back to the way things were before, and a growing sadness in knowing that’s simply not possible.
That’s not to say I’m not excited, even thrilled to become a mother and finally meet this little person who’s been growing inside me. I am. But, I’m also scared to death. I hope that’s normal.